Web on the move - where is mobile internet heading?

Browser wars go mobile

However, browser developers are now realising that to be effective in the mobile space, they need to make mobile applications as similar to a desktop experience as possible.

For example, Mozilla's new mobile Firefox browser (currently codenamed Fennec) uses the same core browsing engine as Firefox, which means it will have better compatibility with websites because most web developers already build and test for Firefox. It will also have the latest JavaScript technology, which helps make websites and applications faster and more responsive.

Mobile browsers work by compressing the data that is sent to your phone, usually on the browser developer's servers.

Opera's compression technology, for example, plays a central role in overall web browsing effectiveness. Opera Mini compresses traffic by up to 90 per cent, without removing or altering website content.

"This results in the fastest and most robust experience possible, regardless of network constraints," explained Sajnani.

Similarly, Opera Turbo is a cross-platform solution, available for desktop computers, mobile phones, and other internet-enabled devices. By compressing network traffic by up to 80 per cent, Opera Turbo helps to enable the sustainability and scalability of networks.

"Opera Turbo ensures a superior browsing experience and maximizes hardware capabilities by processing web pages on server-side," Sajnani added.

As more and more finger-operated touchscreen devices enter the market, technology is developed to make full use of this and eradicate the problems of previous stylus only' interfaces.

Sullivan explained: "We're making it easier [at Mozilla] to navigate by including a version of our Smart URL Bar that gets people to their favourite web sites in one or two keystrokes. We're also working on synchronising your browsing history, bookmarks and password manager with your PC so that your mobile browsing experience can take advantage of all you've done at your PC."

Opera has also introduced a touchscreen interface designed to take the stress out of browsing the internet on mobiles.

"Opera Fingertouch was designed to make interacting with the navigating Web pages, selecting links, forms, and any other web element, much easier without needing a stylus."

However, much of the struggle with making mobile web browsing as painfree as PC surfing is co-operation from developers to create more mobile-friendly websites.

Mozilla is exposing the capabilities of the mobile device to web developers so that they can create new types of sites that take into account the user's location, enable the use of the built-in camera among other phone features, all using simple JavaScript code.

"This is the essence of Mozilla we're a global community dedicated to building free, open source products and technologies that improve the online experience for people everywhere," said Sullivan.

Not just smartphones

Smartphones may be more prepared for web browsing than non-smartphones, but getting the internet on the move is becoming easier for those with java-based devices to.

Opera has a series of innovations created to tackle such issues. For example, Opera has developed Small Screen Rendering that reformats a page to fit in one column, eliminating the need for horizontal scrolling. In addition, innovations such as Opera Zoom allow users to pan and zoom into their desired content in just a few clicks.

Widgets are also becoming more popular for those without full browser functionality. They allow you to view snippets of information using mini-applications such as stock markets, news headlines and weather information.

"Opera Widgets make multi-tasking on a handset more efficient by cutting through the clutter of the Web to get to the information users most want. Users are able to run Opera Widgets on their idle screen and use multiple applications without needing to switch," explained Sajnani.

Making accessing email on mobile is certainly an issued that needs to be addressed by more than one aspect of the mobile phone industry. Mobile manufacturers need to improve the multitasking and memory issues often associated with running a powerful application such as a PC-experience web browser'. Operators need to explain to customers the real-life data download cost, while browser developers must find a way to bring the factors together and produce a web platform that is comparable to a desktop experience.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.